35 Days Out: Epic Flail: What's a Six Letter Word for Most Erratic Candidate Ever?

The last 24 hours seem to have condensed all of McCain's erraticism (yes, that's the word) into some sort of frenetic singularity.
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Jesse Lee is the Online Rapid Response Manager for the DNC, this is a daily update on the day's messaging.

Last week we strolled through John McCain's stunningly erratic response to the economic crisis step by step. The last 24 hours seem to have condensed all of that erraticism (yes, that's the word) into some sort of frenetic singularity.

Just to rewind a little bit, McCain spent yesterday morning boasting of how he had been "in the arena" and bashing Obama for not doing, well, whatever it was he did.

McCain, 9/29/08: "Remarkably, some people have criticized my decision to put my country first, but I'll never be a president who sits on the sidelines when this country faces a crisis. I'll never do that. I know that many of you have noticed it's not my style to simply phone it in."

The cornerstone of his boast was that he had brought Republicans to the table (although of course they had already been at the table until he airdropped in). McCain spokeswoman Kimmie Lipscomb said as McCain was making his way into DC, "We're optimistic that Senator McCain will bring House Republicans on board without driving other parties away, resulting in a successful deal for the American taxpayer." McCain senior advisor Steve Schmidt said on Meet the Press Sunday, "What Senator McCain was able to do was to help bring all of the parties to the table, including the House Republicans, whose votes were needed to pass this."

A statement from Doug Holtz-Eakin has Sen. John McCain...

"Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill.

"Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome."

"This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country."

Just to go through a couple of the flails, as Jonathan Martin queried, "Why does McCain keep using the 'phone it in' metaphor? When he made a show of flying back to Washington after the debate in the middle of the night Friday only to, well, phone it in from his campaign headquarters on Saturday." Then of course there's "Pelosi hurt our feelings" defense, which Republican John Shadegg of the fine state of Arizona called a "stupid claim" and has since been walked back by the House GOP in general.

McCain then picked up where Holtz-Eakin left off in his statement a few hours later, saying "Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process." Then, in the very next sentence without so much as taking a breath, he took a screeching u-turn on to the high road: "Now is not the time to fix the blame, it's time to fix the problem."

But this morning it was that time again! Perhaps the top half of every hour is for fixing blame, and the bottom half is for condemning anybody who would dare fix blame.

First the RNC blasted their attack ad, seeming to obliquely "fix blame" for the entire financial crisis and bailout on Obama, then McCain himself blasted out his ad quite directly "fixing blame" for everything on Obama and Democrats.

And yet, of course, almost simultaneously McCain was in a kindly townhall saying "I am disappointed at the lack of resolve and bipartisan good will among members of both parties to fix this problem" and "I call on everyone in Washington to come together in a bipartisan way to address this crisis." Ok, so maybe alternating half-hour stints doesn't work either. Greg Sargent takes a stab at the math:

"McCain made his remarks calling for bipartisanship at around 11:10 this morning. The McCain campaign sent out the ad attacking Dems and Obama at 11:26. So it only took 16 minutes for the McCain campaign to drop its principal's bipartisan pretenses. Which is actually an improvement over yesterday, when McCain managed to attack Obama over the crisis and then call for no finger-pointing in the space of only two sentences."

And Obama-Biden spokesman Bill Burton responds:

"For John McCain's party to demagogue a rescue plan that he supports in
order to score cheap political points is not only dishonest and
dishonorable, it is the height of irresponsibility on a day when we
urgently need to pass that plan to prevent an economic catastrophe. So
much for country first."

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